Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Something I've been hearing surprisingly frequently lately is the question of "why". I hear it from myself just as often as I hear it from others - my mental dialogue usually takes the form of question and response, for those curious.

Now, the thing I need to justify is sometimes genuinely something that needs justifying. 'Why should I steep Silver Yin Zhen Pearls at 79C for 4 minutes when all of the other whites steep for two?', or, 'Why should I be considering adding Tropical Extracts to this next tank when I've never used them before?'. More often than not, the answer comes out to some variation of the stated course of action being the right thing to do.

Not to mention that I still have to
find the fried component.
Well... why? Sometimes the things I do are genuinely justifiable. Sometimes, they're whims. Take, for example, my latest set of projects. At the moment, I'm writing this blog post on the desktop, while I mull over details for an upcoming Dungeons and Dragons adventure, trying to remember where I put my Microsoft Office install disks, and waiting for a sixth youtube video to render so that I can move it to the laptop to upload. There's laundry to do and dishes to scrub, but at the moment I'm taking what I have determined to be a well-deserved break from working. Tomorrow will be a new day, the dishes are at least rinsed off and will keep until morning, and I work the night shift, so at least I'll have the morning to do some laundry.

As it happens, that's not the most justifiable course of action. It's also not the most interesting why. I get some pretty interesting whys. People make all sorts of assumptions.

"Hey Zac, why do you let yourself get covered to the elbows in crickets and count out super-worms by hand when you hate bugs?"

Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm really only doing it because they pay me. Having said that, if my financial circumstances allowed it, I'd probably still do the same job for less. I essentially care for a couple of hundred pets now. Some of those pets need to eat insects to live. Therefore, I handle insects. I'm not especially fond of insects, and indeed, not particularly happy with some of the animals that eat them, but they deserve at least the care I can give them.

"Hey Zac... why are you all about the tea?" (This one, to be fair, I ask myself almost as often as I get asked.)

I like tea. For one thing, I like drinking it as much as I like juice and pop, and since I rarely sweeten my teas, it's a damn sight healthier than the latter to drink mostly tea. Back in the era of thinking I had money, I acquired a pretty good collection of Teavana teas. By the way, I'm still a paid teavana employee, but don't let that get in the way of a good opinion. I have a very nice water heater, a tatara pot, and all the time in the world (usually) to drink a cup. I have terrible luck with travel mugs, but that's beside the point.

I like tea for different reasons on different days. For the last few weeks it's been that a hot cup of green or white (usually with various herbs and fruits mixed in) was a real boon for a sore throat and slight congestion that shows up at the equinox and usually hangs around at least until Christmas. When I'm working hard, it's that a nice cup of iced tea is just as refreshing as a can of root beer and has the added benefit of not destroying my tooth enamel any more than it already is. I'm excited about tea because it's food. Food's something we have to do every day, but it should never be boring.

Selling Blair is gonna suck
"Ew, why would you let yourself get tangled up by a four-foot boa."

I really need to get a picture of that. Frankly, it's because the boas are affectionate. So's the skink. I like pets that show affection because most, frankly, don't. I don't have a pet right now. I'd like to, but money's a little tight with an empty room in the house, so I have to wait. So I like to handle the boas. I like to handle all of the lizards, really, except the tegus.

Plus, the Hog Islands'll go feral if they're not handled regularly, and then you can't really handle them at all, so it's nice to get them the exercise.

"Why fish?"
Well, the same reason some people like to keep conures. I find fish interesting. I find their biology alien, and any psychology such simple-minded creatures can have must be thoroughly inhuman. Keeping fish is an adventure in applied chemistry and (at obsessive levels of the hobby) fluid dynamics. Rearing and breeding fish is an exciting experience, and an often illuminating one as well. Some fish live no longer than a hamster or rabbit - a hand-count of years - but others, like goldfish, can live for decades. What's more, one can get into studies of genetics when it comes to breeding - I once tried to isolate the blue gene in a colony of mix-coloured Bettas, admittedly without success.

Fish are interesting. Fish are pretty. And once you've gotten past the set-up costs, fish are, frankly, cheap, even when cared for properly. They make no mess and require relatively little space.

"Why ask?"
Well, to be honest, you should always be able to answer the question of why you are doing something. Otherwise, it's hard to remember precisely why it matters to do it well.

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